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How To Go From Idea To Monetization – 3 Stages Of Business Creation

Coming from a middle-class family, William has a heart for helping people who feel they have so much more to give, but can't seem to escape the 9-to-5 rat race. With the wisdom he's absorbed from the several mentors that have poured into his life and the knowledge he's gained from many years of collegiate training, he enjoys sharing all that he's learned with his engaged and growing community.

 
Executive Contributor  William Ballard

In business school, you may have heard about the five stages of business development: ideation, startup, growth, expansion, and maturity. Today, I’m going to introduce you to what I refer to as the three stages of Business Creation.


business people planning strategy with colleagues during meeting

That said, do any of you know what the highest-paid business activity is?

 

Some might say it would be sales or even marketing, but the truth is, it’s none of these.

 

The highest-paid activity in business is thinking.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with who I am, I’m mostly known for the phrase: “Dreamers fantasize; thinkers materialize.” That isn’t to say I’m against dreamers or against dreaming; quite the contrary. I’m a big dreamer. 

 

As you are about to read, the dreaming phase is a significant step of the business creation process. And to go back to the point of thinking mentioned above, Jordan Peterson said, “Dreaming is the birthplace of thinking.”

 

As a new entrepreneur, it’s probably hard to fathom what it would be like to enter a business's startup, growth, expansion, and maturity stages if you haven’t first mastered the three stages of ideation, or what I am referring to as Business Creation.


Stage one: Business idea – Don’t be afraid to dream

Entrepreneurship is the essence of creating something from nothing. There really is nothing like it. That said, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And it’s definitely not something that should be done on impulse.

 

Now, your personality plays a big part in whether or not you will be successful in this space, and there is a lot that can be said about the personality of an entrepreneur, but that’s a subject for another time.

 

On another note, there are two types of people in entrepreneurship. There are those who have a big heart and desire to serve a specific population or demographic. They want to help people and add value to people, but often, their hearts become like a fog, blurring their vision toward a thriving business.

 

I don’t want to imply that the heart stuff isn’t necessary because it very much is. It’s important because you lose your way when you lose touch with your why.

 

However, it’s essential not to let it blur our vision through the concept stage, which we will discuss in just a moment.

 

In short, these are the types of people who have an idea of what they want to do and a passion for it but are not very aware of the business side of things.

 

The second kind of entrepreneur is the one who has forgotten how to dream. These people were told when they were young that they should keep their heads out of the clouds and be more realistic. These people know they want to start a business but have yet to decide what kind of business they want to enter or where to begin.

 

Three tips for narrowing down your business idea that caters to both types of people

 

  1. Start with what you love.  If you wanted to do what someone else loves or make someone else’s dreams come true, you’d work for someone else, right? That said, becoming an entrepreneur is your opportunity to do what you love and believe you were always meant to do, so why settle for anything less?

  2. Narrow down your search.  We will talk more about this in the next stage (business concept), but for now, think of it like this: let’s say you want to get into the food business … Do you want to operate a five-star restaurant, own a fast food franchise, or run a food truck business? Identify your target and then become laser-focused on it.

  3. By the numbers. Ultimately, a business that cannot profit will not stand, no matter how much you enjoy the work. Before you take any significant steps towards launching your business idea, it is important to review the financials. Ask yourself how much it would cost to operate your business. What are the sales potential and prospective profit margins? You always want to keep the bottom-line top of mind.


This is also where dreaming and fantasizing take place. This is a critical step in creating a business and should never be taken lightly.

 

Remember that turning your business dream into reality will often require tweaks. The most successful entrepreneurs think creatively about making their dreams come true, even when it seems like everything is against them.

 

Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.” And it was Bob Proctor who took that one step further when he said, “If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand.”

 

That said, this was the same process I took when the dream of my coaching business was born. Our passion is helping aspiring entrepreneurs transform from merely surviving operations to truly thriving organizations. We are passionate about that because we believe entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to start or grow a business alone.


Stage two: Business concept Think it through

According to Indeed.com, a Business Concept ”describes and clearly defines a new idea for a business initiative, whether that be creating a new company or producing a new product for the consumer market. A successful business concept lays out the groundwork for why you have created the idea, what it can solve, who the demographic is, and whether it’s beneficial enough to invest in it.”

 

That said, an essential aspect of a business concept is often referred to as a business model, a prototype. A business model will include the financial aspect of your business idea and its profitability. In other words, no matter your business concept, it is essential to keep your potential revenue growth in mind.

 

This is also the stage where business planning begins to take form. It’s not as in-depth as the business planning phase, but it is the beginning stage. It is also where we begin to engage in market research.

 

In the book Business Model Generation, authors Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur describe a business model as “the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value.” The rational aspect unites a business concept and a business model.

 

Now, there is a lot that can be said about this stage, but for now, I’ll just say this: when it comes to working with our business coaching clients, we always begin with Alexander and Yves’s Business Model Canvas.

 

Business model canvas includes nine building blocks

 

  1. Customer segments– This is about defining who your target market is.

  2. Value propositions– This is one step above a unique selling proposition, but it’s mainly about the problem you solve in the market and what makes you different from the rest.

  3. Channels—This is about how you communicate your value proposition to your target market. It includes sales and marketing channels, as well as distribution methods of your product or service.

  4. Customer relationship management – This is about how you maintain and nurture relationships with your current clients or customers, as well as how you establish new relationships with new potential customers or clients.

  5. Revenue streams–This results from successfully communicating your value proposition to your target market.

  6. Key resources – This is about the assets required to offer and deliver the product or service you provide to solve the problem in your market.

  7. Key activities – This is about the methods and processes you practice to provide the above.

  8. Key partnerships – That said, some activities and resources are outsourced, which is what this building block is about. 

  9. Cost structure – After everything above is determined, the cost structure becomes more apparent. In other words, what does it cost to provide all the above? What does it cost to develop or produce your product? Or what does it cost to provide your service? Once you have some idea of that, creating a pricing strategy for your products or services becomes clearer.

 

Stage three: Business story – Develop a business narrative

The final stage of Business Creation is the development of your business narrative, or what we refer to as your business story. Some even describe this as an origin story.


As mentioned above, determining your value proposition and communicating that to your target market will determine whether you succeed in business or not.


Keeping that in mind, creating your business story begins with the four critical elements of every story: setting, characters, conflict, and resolution.


A lot can be said about each of these elements, but what I mostly want to share with you today is this: in every bit of communication (marketing messages) you share with your target market, you should always make your prospect the hero or heroine in the story, and you (your company, your product or service) as their helpful guide.


Another critical point is this: According to Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus in their book Everyday Business Storytelling, “your WHY determines the setting, characters, and conflict of your story. Your HOW describes your resolution. Your WHAT identifies your BIG idea–the one thing you want your readers (potential clients or customers) to remember.”


That said, which of these (setting, characters, conflict, resolution) do you think we, as businesspeople and entrepreneurs, tend to start with? According to Janine and Lee, if you suggested resolution you’d be correct. However, Janine and Lee say starting with a resolution is the opposite of good business storytelling.


As business communicators, we tend to focus more on ourselves and the solution to the problem we solve in the market (our company and our products or services). This is important at the beginning, but context should become our main priority at this point in the Business Creation process.


For instance, consider The Wizard of Oz. If the story began with Dorthy saying, “There’s no place like home,” why would we care about a Kansan girl finding her way back home? As Janine and Lee explain, “We wouldn’t unless we saw her get lost in a tornado, find friends and scary creatures along the way, and ultimately meet a fake wizard.”


In other words, when it comes to a compelling business story, it’s all about the journey you take your target market on. When you master this skill of business storytelling, you almost make it impossible for your target market to choose any solution to their problem other than the one you and your company provide.


In short, if you begin your business story with the solution or resolution without first building context and intrigue, you will set yourself up for failure.


Final thought

To bring this together, I am sharing a brief story about when I pitched my idea for my commercial photography business to a panel of Entrepreneurs and Business Investors. My primary target market was brokers and real estate agents.

 

I began with building context and intrigue around a typical day for a real estate agent (character and setting). I created conflict by describing the pain points of hiring a commercial photographer and all the headaches that come along with that.

 

That said, during my market research (the business concept stage), I discovered that real estate agents, above all, want the speed of delivery of finished products, quality work, and great customer service.

 

However, the problem in this particular market is the time it takes to edit photos. In other words, editing our photos does aid in providing quality work, but it affects the speed of delivery and the ability to maintain great customer service.

 

So, I then built up the emotional aspect of what it feels like for real estate agents to experience the problem (conflict) of getting a quality photo but having to sacrifice the other two desires (speed in delivery and great customer service) to do so.

 

Finally, I presented them with the resolution (solution) I discovered to solve this problem within the market. What I found was that if I outsourced the editing of the photos overseas, this would allow our team to continue providing great customer service and increase our ability to improve the speed of delivery (since our overseas team would be working while our US team would be sleeping).

 

Moreover, setting up our operation this way would improve our quality of work, and this is how we determined our value proposition—what made us different from our competitors.


To that end, whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner looking to redefine your business narrative, I encourage you to subscribe to our Business & Entrepreneurship newsletter today. Why? Because we truly believe no entrepreneur or business owner should have to build or grow a business alone.

 

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and visit my website for more info!

 

William Ballard, CEO, Business Coach

Coming from a middle-class family, William has a heart for helping people who feel they have so much more to give, but can't seem to escape the 9-to-5 rat race. With the wisdom he's absorbed from the several mentors that have poured into his life and the knowledge he's gained from many years of collegiate training, he enjoys sharing all that he's learned with his engaged and growing community. He is the founder of the Business Insider newsletter (3,000+ subscribers) and is a sought-after Certified Coach and Trainer within the John Maxwell Leadership Team. William and his team specialize in helping small business owners and entrepreneurs bring their organizations to scale by creating authority-positioning content and authentic, magnetic messaging that inspires and changes lives.

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